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The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your questions concerning the funding that has been set aside to retrain staff from job centres and Benefits Agency offices. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
The Department for Work and Pensions will only consider compulsory redundancies when absolutely necessary. However where redundancies are deemed necessary the department will fund outplacement support for staff affected and is currently working with external partners regarding this provision. As we are currently in negotiation with the providers we are not able to divulge outplacement costs at this stage as this would be to provide contractual information prior to the contract being signed.
Jim Sheridan: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether his Department has access to the data collated from the ACU1 forms, ACU2 forms and 46ACU forms that are returned to the Inland Revenue Agricultural Compliance Unit by those using the services of a gangmaster or employment agency. 
Mr. Pond: DWP has access to the data collated on forms ACU1, ACU2 and 46ACU through Section 109 of the Social Security Act 1992 when the documents are held at a place of work and through Section 122 of the Social Security Act 1992 when the documents are held by the Inland Revenue.
Helen Southworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what training opportunities are available for older workers who wish to retrain to achieve Council for Registered Gas Installers qualifications; and how local information on access to those opportunities can be obtained. 
Jane Kennedy: Training opportunities may be available through Ambition:Energy which is a national pilot programme aimed at addressing skill shortages in the energy sector, whilst providing quality job opportunities for unemployed or inactive people aged 18 and over. Ambition:Energy recently won a prestigious National Training Award for the partnership between Jobcentre Plus and Energy and Utility Skills.
Ambition:Energy offers training to NVQ level 2 in Domestic Gas Installation and Maintenance, which enables the qualification holder to become CORGI registered. The training comprises 27 weeks' technical and lifeskills training plus work experience with a potential employer, while the individual remains on benefit plus a training allowance. Participants also receive driving tuition, if required. Once in employment, participants complete a further eight weeks' training and assessment to achieve the full NVQ2, normally within the first six months.
Although Ambition:Energy is a national programme, courses are only run where employer commitment to real jobs has been clearly defined. As a result, 929 people have successfully secured jobs as domestic gas installers
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(69 per cent. of those starting the programme) and 89 per cent. remain in employment for at least six months.
When employer engagement has been defined, intensive advertising is undertaken in the recruitment area through the Jobcentre Plus network. This involves a combination of Jobcentre Plus Adviser awareness activities, publicity materials and engagement with outreach organisations.
Since September 2002, DWP has published a range of performance indicators showing the speed and accuracy for all local authorities in the administration of housing benefit and council tax benefit. The statistics are published on the DWP website on a quarterly basis at www.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd1/hb_ctb/performance.asp and are also available in the Library.
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Mr. Pond: In 200304 the percentage of housing benefit claims that were refused was 11.8 per cent. This figure is based on un-audited data provided to the Department by local authorities on a quarterly basis.
Mr. Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of those claiming incapacity benefit also received (a) income support and (b) disability premiums in each year since 1997; and if he will estimate the cost of income support and disability premium payments to incapacity benefit claimants in each year since 1997. 
|All claimants of IB/SDA/Credits only||Claimants of IB/SDA/Credits only with Income Support||Percentage of all IB/SDA/Credits only claimants||Claimants of IB/SDA/Credits only with Income Support disability premium||Percentage of all IB/SDA/Credits only claimants|
|Nominal terms £ million||Real terms £ million,|
|With or without a disability premium||With a disability premium||With or without a disability premium||With a disability premium|
|Income Support paid to people receiving Incapacity Benefit credits|
Mr. Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which medical services that receive referrals from Jobcentre Plus with reference to incapacity benefit have since appointment (a) hit and (b) missed their 32 working-day target by which they aim to complete their part of the examination process. 
Maria Eagle: The current target of an Average Actual Clearance Time (AACT) of 32 working days for ATOS Origin Medical Services to complete their part of the incapacity benefit examination process has been in place since April 2003. The target is measured in each of the three contract package areas.
|Number of months where target was achieved||Number of months where target was missed|
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